Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Living better as you age

From: Andy Soos,

There is a general desire to be healthy and happy in life. Succeeding at these tasks is quite daunting. Middle-aged adults help their hearts with regular leisure-time physical activities according to one new study.

The midlife well being of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom they see regularly according to another study. Both are simple concepts and readily apparent but now supported by these studies.

Middle-aged adults who regularly engage in leisure-time physical activity for more than a decade may enhance their heart health, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
"It’s not just vigorous exercise and sports that are important," said Mark Hamer, Ph.D., study lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College in London, U.K. "These leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health. It is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful aging."
At the baseline assessment in 1991-1993, researchers analyzed two key inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (CRP) External link and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Researchers again assessed physical activity and inflammatory markers in 1997-99 and about 11 years later.

Physically active participants at baseline had lower CRP and IL6 levels. The difference remained stable over time compared to participants that rarely adhered to physical activity guidelines during a 10-year follow-up.

A network of relatives is also important—but only for men—shows the study of more than 6500 Britons born in 1958. The authors base their findings on information collected from the participants, all of whom were part of the National Child Development Study (NCDS), when they were aged 42, 45 and 50.
At the age of 42, participants completed a validated questionnaire (Malaise Inventory) to gauge their psychological well being and provided details of their partnership and job status, as well as the age at which they left full time education.
One in seven said they had no contacts with relatives outside their immediate household and around one in 10 said they had no friends. Four out of 10 men and around one in three women said they had more than six friends whom they saw regularly.
Employment had no bearing on the size of social networks, but education did. Men who left full time education between the ages of 17 and 19 were 45% less likely to have a larger kinship network, while those staying on until 20 or beyond were 60% less likely to do so. The comparable figures for women were 17% and 60%, respectively.
Staying on in full time education after 16 also reduced the size of men's friendship network, but it increased women's—by 38% if they left between 17 and 19, and by 74% if they left after the age of 20.
Having a partner was associated with a larger kinship network. Being single reduced that probability by 31% for men and by 26% for women. But it had no impact on friendship networks.
When participants' psychological wellbeing was assessed at the age of 50, the results showed a significant association between the number of friends and psychological well being, the impact of which was greater for women.
Psychological well being was especially poor among those with no relatives or friends: among men this was 2.3 points lower if they had no relatives and 2.6 points lower if they had no friends compared with those with 10 or more regular social contacts.
The moral of this is to exercise moderately, get married and cultivate a circle of friends in order to age healthy and happy.
For further information see Exercise and Friends.